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U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Announces Historic Agreements for U.S.-Cuba Agriculture

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Announces Historic Agreements for U.S.-Cuba Agriculture

HAVANA, CUBA - As part of President Obama's historic trip to Cuba, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced several new measures in an effort to foster further partnerships between the U.S. and Cuban in agriculture.

Tom Vilsack, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture

"Recognizing the importance of agriculture in the United States and Cuba, USDA is advancing a new partnership for the 21st century between our two countries," explained Vilsack. "U.S. producers are eager to help meet Cuba's need for healthy, safe, nutritious food… The agreements we reached with our Cuban counterparts on this historic trip, and the ability for our agriculture sector leaders to communicate with Cuban businesses, will help U.S. agricultural interests better understand the Cuban market, while also providing the Cuban people with science-based information as they grow their own agriculture sector.”

This historic visit to Cuba is the first by a sitting U.S. President in nearly 90 years. It is Secretary Vilsack's second visit, which the USDA says is another demonstration of the President's commitment to chart a new course for U.S.-Cuban relations and connect U.S. and Cuban citizens through expanded travel, commerce, and access to information.

Agriculture Minister of Cuba Gustavo Rodríguez Rollero and Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack. Photo via USDA.

Among the announcements made by Secretary Vilsack are the following:

  • USDA will being allowing the 22 industry-funded Research and Promotion Programs and 18 Marketing Order organizations to conduct authorized research and information exchange activities with Cuba. 
  • Secretary Vilsack and Cuban Minster of Agriculture Gustavo Rodriguez Rollero will sign a Memorandum of Understanding that establishes a framework for sharing ideas and research between the two countries.
  • USDA will review all proposed Research and Promotion Board and Marketing Order activities related to Cuba to ensure that they are consistent with existing laws. 
  • Provide nutritional research and guidance, as well as participate with the Cuban government and industry officials, at meetings regarding nutrition and related Cuban rules and regulations.
  • Conduct plate waste study research in schools.
  • Provide U.S. based market, consumer, nutrition and environmental research findings to Cuban government and industry officials.
  • Research commodities' role in a nutritious diet that improves health or lowers the risk of chronic diseases.
  • Study the efficacy of water disinfectants to eliminate/inactivate bacteria on commodities.
  • Test recipes and specific products amongst Cuban consumers of all ages, with the goal of increasing product development and acceptance.

While most U.S. commercial activities are still prohibited, the Trade Sanctions Reform Act (TSRA) of 2000 permits the export of U.S. agricultural commodities, though U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba are limited by U.S. restrictions on government export assistance, cash payments, and extending credit. U.S. agricultural exports have grown significantly since trade was authorized in 2000. In 2014, Cuba imported over $2 billion in agricultural products including $300 million from the United States.

USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service

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